Digital Marketing Funnel: Types and Stages Explained in 2024

Digital Marketing Funnel Types and Stages Explained in 2024

To give a client a satisfying experience, one must know the journey that they go through whilst engaging with a brand. Knowing your customers’ interests, needs, and struggles at any stage of their engagement with your product or service, is the first step of improving your relationship with them. That is why many digital marketing funnels, that represent these engagement stages, have been created to help us understand our customers’ journey, as well as improve them.

Customers are the beating hearts of any business, and this makes the process of acquiring, engaging, and retaining them valuable. Using digital marketing funnels can ensure that we always know our customers’ engagement steps. They will also provide us with the necessary tools to improve our relationship with them during their journey, thus decreasing our funnel drop.

In this article, we will discuss the different types of digital marketing funnels and why you may need them, as well as give you tips for creating your own. But before that, let’s talk about what the definition of a digital marketing funnel is.

What Is Digital Marketing Funnel?

A digital marketing funnel is a visual representation of the journey of each customer when they engage with the brand. Digital marketing funnels highlight all the steps users take from the moment they get introduced to the brand and its products, to the final moment of doing a transaction.

The goal of any digital marketing funnel is to bring in qualified traffic at the first stage, then attend to the clients, and convert them into loyal customers and brand advocates.

The digital marketing funnel is a crucial concept that helps businesses understand and optimize the customer journey from the initial awareness and discovery stage to conversion and then retention of users.

Why Do You Need a Digital Marketing Funnel?

Having a clear idea of the customer’s journey in your business helps you put yourself in their shoes, allowing you to learn about their experience and what they would want at each certain stage of the process. Knowing your customers’ demands and focusing on answering them will deliver various positive results for your brand. Here are some of the reasons why you may need a digital marketing funnel and what the benefits of having one are. A digital marketing funnel can help you:

  • Customize Your Messages

The digital marketing funnel ensures that your advertisements and content speak directly to your customers based on which stage of the journey they are in, and what their interests are. It can also give you ideas for your content design strategies.

  • Generate Better Leads

The correct messages attract the people who are more likely to buy what you are selling. This makes the conversion of these interested people into buyers much easier.

  • Save Time and Money

Being able to recognize different audiences and understand what each segment needs helps you avoid wasting money and time on useless matters. If you and your team can concentrate on developing something that your consumers really need to see, then your efficiency increases massively.

  • Talk to the Right People

Using digital marketing funnels, you can ensure you are only approaching people who will have a real interest in your offers. This means the message reaches those who are likely to respond to it and later convert or even become loyal customers.

  • Guide Your Customers

The digital marketing funnel leads your customers on a journey, guiding them at each step of the way, and providing them with the required information at all important stages. This prevents them from getting lost or confused and makes it easier for you to lead them towards making a purchase.

Using digital marketing funnels helps you to narrow your focus and efforts towards the most important actions that you can take. This will increase your efficiency both money-wise and time-wise, making your marketing efforts more optimized and helping you generate more revenue. Now that we know how these funnels can help you, let’s learn about the different digital marketing funnel types and their pros and cons.

Digital Marketing Funnel Types

The marketing funnels have been evolving since when the first marketing funnel model, namely AIDA, was introduced by Elias St. Elmo Lewis in 1925. After the development of the digital world in recent years, many digital marketing funnels have been introduced and used regularly. Some of which have become reputable for the detailed staging, and some for their general view. Here are some of the best digital marketing funnel types that you can use:

#1 Traditional Marketing Funnel (AIDA)

The AIDA funnel model in digital marketing showcases the customer’s journey from the first moment they become aware of a brand (awareness) to the point they decide to make a purchase (action).

This digital marketing funnel is used to set and analyze marketing strategies across digital platforms and for different stages of user engagement. Here are the 4 stages of AIDA digital marketing funnel:

Traditional (AIDA) Digital Marketing Funnel
Traditional Marketing Funnel (AIDA)

1. Awareness

First, the potential customer becomes aware of your brand or product through digital channels like social media, blogs, or online ads.

2. Interest

After becoming aware of your brand, the customer shows interest by seeking more information. This could involve visiting your website or following your social media profiles.

3. Desire

In this stage, the customer’s interest turns into a desire or preference for your product over others, often influenced by engaging content, product benefits, and positive reviews.

4. Action

Lastly, the customer takes action by making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, or any other goal your marketing effort aims for.

AIDA Funnel Pros
  • Easy Steps: Gives you a clear plan for each of the customers’ engagement stages.
  • Customer-Centered: Helps you provide what your customers want at every step.
  • Suitable For All: Works with all kinds of online marketing strategies.
  • Trackable: allows you to see how well you’re doing at each point.
AIDA Funnel Cons
  • Too Simple: Having an oversimplified view, this funnel Ignores the complexities of online shopping where not everyone follows the same path.
  • Needs Frequent Updates: The online world changes fast, so you have to keep updating AIDA’s general plan frequently.
  • No Customer Loyalty Stage: It can make you focus too much on getting new customers and forget about retaining them.

The next digital marketing funnel is a newer version. While following the main principles of the AIDA funnel model, it has expanded the stages to achieve a more detailed view of customers’ journeys.

#2 Linear Digital Marketing Funnel

The newer linear digital marketing funnel is like a modernized version of the traditional AIDA model funnel. This funnel guides potential customers from first exposure to your brand to becoming loyal customers.

Unlike AIDA’s straightforward approach from awareness to action, the linear funnel adds more layers to the process to build relationships with customers and make them come back for more. Here are the digital marketing funnel stages:

Linear Digital Marketing Funnel
Linear Digital Marketing Funnel

1. Exposure

First, you introduce your brand where your target audience already is, whether by using SEO, social media, or ads to make that crucial first impression and get their attention.

2. Discovery

Then, you must engage the audience’s curiosity with compelling content that showcases your brand’s value and benefits compared to your competitors.

3. Consideration

You offer clear and persuasive information, as well as comparisons that highlight why your product or service is the best choice for their needs. This will make your brand’s name linger in the audience’s mind.

4. Conversion

With straightforward calls to action, you simplify the decision-making process of customers and provide them with an easy purchasing journey to close the deal. Having a decent checkout page design can help you reach the conversion goal of this stage.

5. Customer Relationship

After the conversion, you keep the relationship with the customers. You can use surveys about their experience, or even offer them personalized deals to keep them engaged.

6. Retention

By encouraging customers to repeat their engagement, you will earn their loyalty. You can include exclusive content, VIP deals, and such things that maintain the customers’ interest in your customer retention strategy. It will also show them that you care about them and their experience, which all customers love.

Linear Funnel Pros
  • Better Customer Relationships: Helps in building stronger customer bonds, even after the purchase.
  • Loyal Customer Attainment: Increases retention rate and customer loyalty.
  • Detailed Journey Map: Provides a detailed journey with a more accurate engagement stage division.
Linear Funnel Cons
  • More Complexity: Can be more complex to implement and track across all stages.
  • More Costly: Requires more resources to maintain ongoing customer engagement.
  • Potential Delay: This funnel might extend the time to conversion because of the added stages.

With the rise of the internet, traditional and linear marketing funnels have become less effective. Why you ask? Because it is more likely for a person to read reviews and watch unboxing videos of products before buying them. So, chances are more people will engage with a brand because of the reviews and word of mouth of a company’s loyal customers and advocates. To face these changes in the new world, newer digital marketing funnels have been introduced.

#3 Hourglass Digital Marketing Funnel

The Hourglass digital marketing funnel was created as a response to this shift in customers’ digital journey. This model recognizes that the sale is not the end of a customer’s journey, but it is the beginning of many more engagements!

Unlike the previous funnel models, which primarily focus on leading a customer to a purchase, the Hourglass funnel has more emphasis on customer retention, loyalty, and advocacy. Here are the Hourglass digital marketing funnel steps:

Hourglass Digital Marketing Funnel
Hourglass Digital Marketing Funnel

1. Engagement

Focusing on exposure, you try to catch the customer’s attention via ads, compelling content, or interactions.

2. Education

You offer valuable information that helps the customers learn about the solutions to their problems. And guess what? Your company offers those solutions!

3. Research

The stage where customers research your products and services, more deeply than before, to understand how they can be beneficial.

4. Evaluation

Customers compare your brand with competitors, trying to find and choose the best option.

5. Justification

To buy or not to buy? At this stage, customers focus on the pros and cons and question the decision to make a purchase or not.

6. Purchase

This is where the transaction happens and the customer has officially chosen your product or service, willing to buy it.

Customer loyalty is among the most valuable things any company could wish for. Thus, the Hourglass digital marketing funnel has more emphasis on the customers’ post-purchase journey as well, in hopes of acquiring repeat customers and increasing their loyalty. So, the next stages are about the beyond-purchase journey of the customers.

7. Adoption

At this stage, the customer has acquired your product or service and is about to experience their true value. This will be the ultimate test of the quality that your brand can offer.

8. Retention

If the customer is satisfied with your product or service, you can have them come back and offer them more. This will help in creating better relationships with them.

9. Expansion

At this stage, you offer other products and services of your brand to happy customers. Chances are they are willing to try more, and this will increase customer loyalty.

10. Advocacy

Now you have loyal customers who are extremely eager about your brand, and will most likely suggest it to their friends and relatives. After this stage, you must focus on not losing these advocates.

Hourglass Funnel Pros
  • Thorough Approach: Covers the full customer lifecycle, from initial interest to post-purchase and beyond.
  • Enhanced Customer Loyalty: By focusing on post-purchase stages, it builds stronger, longer-lasting relationships.
  • Growth Opportunities: Identifies avenues for upselling and cross-selling, increasing customer lifetime value.
Hourglass Funnel Cons
  • High Complexity: Managing strategies across all these stages can be extremely complex and resource-intensive.
  • Measurement Challenges: Tracking customer progress through every stage requires advanced analytics and can be difficult to do accurately.
  • Higher Content Demand: Requires a diverse range of content specifically for each stage to be effective, thus demanding more time and creativity.

The Hourglass digital marketing funnel is for sure a much more detailed funnel than the previous ones, but that is not always helpful. Not all companies can afford the expenses of detailed approaches. That is why the next marketing funnel is a more generalized version of them all.

#4 Simplified Marketing Funnel (ToFu, MoFu, BoFu)

This simplified digital marketing funnel, called ToFu, MoFu, and BoFu divides the customer journey into three separate stages. While the AIDA model guides customers from Awareness to Action in four stages, the ToFu, MoFu, and BoFu model funnel divides the customer engagement process into three stages which are the Top of the Funnel, Middle of the Funnel, and Bottom of the Funnel.

Companies can use these generalized stages of this funnel to adapt them to their own engagement processes and make a unique funnel for themselves. Here are the stages of this simplified digital marketing funnel:

Simplified (ToFu, MoFu, BoFu Digital Marketing Funnel
Simplified Marketing Funnel (ToFu, MoFu, BoFu)

ToFu (Top of the Funnel)

This stage focuses on awareness and reach. It’s about grabbing the attention of people who might need your product or service but are not yet familiar with your brand. Educational content that is aimed towards solving general problems related to your brand or product can be helpful in this first stage.

MoFu (Middle of the Funnel)

In the middle of the funnel, the focus shifts towards customer engagement and their evaluation. Potential customers are considering their options and looking to make the best decision. Your goal here is to provide more detailed information that shows your products and services as the best possible choice. This could include comparison guides, case studies, and webinars.

BoFu (Bottom of the Funnel)

At this stage, we try to encourage customers to take action and make a decision. Customers are ready to buy, so the focus here is aimed at conversion. You may want to offer product demos, free trials, or detailed product information as they can guide customers toward making a purchase.

ToFu, MoFu, and BoFu Funnel Pros
  • Structured Approach: Defines customer journey stages more clearly and makes it easier to adjust your marketing efforts.
  • Increased Efficiency: Allows for targeted content creation and saves time and resources.
  • Higher Conversion Rates: By addressing specific needs at each stage, this funnel model can lead to more conversions.
ToFu, MoFu, and BoFu Funnel Cons
  • Very Costly: Creating unique content for each stage can require significant time and resources.
  • Hard Trackability: Monitoring the results and progress through the general funnel stages can be challenging without the right tools.
  • Extensive Focus On Details: This funnel has the risk of focusing too much on stages and possibly overlooking the realistic customer journey.

Each company is different from the rest, thus their customer journeys may not be the same as well. Using this simplified funnel model, any business can create its own funnel. Doing so will offer a much more personalized view of your users’ engagement stages. But how can you use the ToFu, MoFu, and BoFu models to create your own digital marketing funnel?

How Do You Create A Digital Marketing Funnel?

It is better for each brand and company to create its own digital marketing funnels. This allows them to tailor each stage to the exact circumstances of their journey, instead of following a general funnel. Also following your own digital marketing funnel examples lets you change and optimize it when needed. So for those who want to create their own funnels, here are the general stages that your digital marketing funnels must follow:

  1. Know Your Audience and Competitors

First, determine your target audience as well as your competitors that are offering a similar product or service to yours. By doing this, you can do behavioral segmentation for your audience, and also take advantage of your competitors’ weaknesses. Or maybe you could even learn from your competitors and their experience, right?

  1. Set Clear Goals and Plan Your Content

Determine your goals, such as generating more content for your website or sales. Then choose the type of information or posts that will provide answers to your customers’ questions and encourage them to buy your product. If you give your customers what they need at all times, you will increase your retention rate and keep them coming back.

  1. Improve Your Website’s Landing Pages

It is essential to ensure your website is user-friendly and has pages that display your services or products. These pages should be used to capture the attention of visitors and transform them into customers. Here, improving your website’s SEO will expand your reach and more customers will find your brand via search engines. Also, focusing on the UX of the website will ensure users have an exceptional journey as their first experience with your brand.

  1. Learn More About Your Customers

You can test different variants of your ads or web pages and even do surveys to determine what works better for your customers. Be ready to assist your customers by answering questions and offering support as this helps to create trust and increases the chances of them advocating for the brand.

  1. Strengthen Your Brand

Keep appearing where your customers are, such as on social media or in search results, and keep your message simple so that it lingers in their minds when they are ready to shop.

By combining these steps and using the simplified funnel model, you can guide people from just hearing about you to becoming loyal customers, using your digital marketing funnel to grow your business in the most efficient way.

FAQs about Digital Marketing Funnels

So far, we have discussed what a digital marketing funnel is and what its types and benefits are, as well as how you can build your own. The truth is that digital marketing funnels have different branches such as full-funnel digital marketing and digital marketing sales funnel, and they all need separate articles to be fully explained.

In this section, we will briefly discuss the common questions about these other branches of digital marketing funnels so you develop a general understanding of them.

Q1. What Is Full Funnel Digital Marketing?

Full-funnel digital marketing is an all-around approach that guides potential customers through their buying journey with your brand.

From the initial awareness stage, where customers first discover your products or services through ads or social media, to the consideration stage, where they evaluate what you offer against their needs, and finally to the decision stage, leading to a purchase.

Although, this strategy doesn’t stop at the sale and it continues to engage and retain customers, with the goal of turning them into loyal customers and brand advocates.

By addressing each part of the customer’s journey, full funnel digital marketing ensures no opportunity is missed to connect, engage, and convert, making it a powerful tool for businesses aiming for growth and customer loyalty.

Q2. What Is Sales Funnel In Digital Marketing?

Digital marketing sales funnels map out the journey from someone first finding out about your brand to deciding to buy your products or services. It’s like a path that guides potential customers step by step toward a purchase. Sales funnel software can help a lot in this process, by automating tasks, keeping track of leads, and making sure the right messages reach the right people at the right time. This software makes the whole process smoother, helping turn interested customers into buyers more effectively.


As digital marketing funnels continue to evolve, it is better to understand their approach so your business can stay ahead. َAfter learning the idea behind the funnel stages of traditional models like AIDA to more detailed ones like the Hourglass funnel, companies can implement them in their personalized marketing strategies. This allows them to resonate better with their customers.

Make sure to use this knowledge to build a digital marketing funnel suited for your company’s unique needs and audience and make deeper customer connections, enhance their loyalty, and ultimately, achieve greater success for your brand.

Cyrus Nambakhsh
Cyrus Nambakhsh
Cyrus is a serial entrepreneur, product-led-growth expert, a product visionary who launched 7 startups. He has built scalable platforms to help businesses and entrepreneurs. Visit my profile here: ==> For Guest Posts and Links Contact: [email protected]
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